Week in Review: Dec. 21

The Week in Review provides an overview of the past week’s top health care content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Clinic Laboratories news, and upcoming events.

Industry News

Women with Heart Emergencies Less Likely to Get Proper Care

Women with cardiac emergencies are less likely than men to receive proper treatment when the ambulance arrives, a new study reports. The analysis, in Women’s Health Issues, used four years of data from a federal government database to compile information on out-of-hospital emergencies involving people 40 or older with chest pain or cardiac arrest. Almost 2.4 million people, 1.2 million of them women, were included. Over all, fewer than half of patients with chest pain received the recommended treatment with aspirin and cardiac monitoring. But among them, 2.8 percent fewer women than men received aspirin, and 4.6% fewer were transported to the hospital using lights and sirens. Among those who had cardiac arrest outside of a hospital, women were 1.3%  less likely to receive resuscitation from emergency medical worker and 8.6% less likely to receive cardiac defibrillation. Via NY Times.

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China’s History with AIDS Explains a Puzzling Aspect of "CRISPR Babies" Story

It was 2007, barely more than a decade ago, in a rural village on the Chinese border with Myanmar, ground zero of China’s first AIDS epidemic. HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, first entered China from Myanmar, borne by the needles that accompanied a persistent regional heroin addiction. That ignorance among sufferers, in parts of the country where people were most likely to have it, reflected China’s unique and complex history with AIDS, one that involved a litany of scandals and government cover-ups that have left a lasting imprint of stigma and fear about HIV and AIDS—and discrimination. That history helps explain a puzzling aspect of the news last month that a Chinese scientist claimed to have altered the genes of twin girls: Why had He Jiankui, a researcher with Southern University of Science and Technology, chosen to edit a gene in embryos that might protect the babies from AIDS? Other, simpler and far safer procedures like sperm washing already exist to protect children from the virus when their fathers carry it, as in the twin’s case. Wan Yanhai, a former officer with China’s Ministry of Health who later became an advocate for people with HIV and AIDS in China, says it’s important to recall that in the beginning of the crisis years, China deliberately framed AIDS as a disease of foreigners. Via STAT.

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The CRISPR Shocker: How Genome-Editing Scientist He Jiankui Rose from Obscurity to Stun the World

One of the world’s most celebrated biologists, Jennifer Doudna is not easily rattled. But she was struggling to process what she had just heard. Moments before, she met with the researcher whose bombshell had shaken the world of medicine like nothing since the birth of the first test tube baby 40 years earlier. As she walked up from the lobby of Hong Kong’s Le Méridien Cyberport hotel, the University of California, Berkeley, biochemist was shaking her head as if that would jostle her thoughts into a place where everything made sense again. It was the last Monday in November, the day news broke that a little-known scientist in China named He Jiankui claimed he had created what instantly became known as the world’s first “CRISPR babies”: twin girls who came into existence as IVF embryos and whose genomes had been changed by the revolutionary DNA editor called CRISPR. It was something everyone in the burgeoning, multibillion-dollar field of genome editing knew would come one day, but which nevertheless shook even experts with its timing, its secrecy, and PR trappings that made the rollout of Beyonce’s “Lemonade” look amateurish. Via STAT.

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Soaring Suicides Are Another Sign of Our Toxic Social Disconnect

Americans are dying—earlier than they have been and often at their own hands. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2017 tally, there has been a dramatic rise in the numbers of U.S. deaths by suicide and drug overdose. As Tamar Lapin noted in these pages, “The last time the U.S. experienced this long of a general decline in life expectancy was in the late 1910s, when the Spanish influenza and World War I killed nearly 1 million Americans.” This time we’re doing it to ourselves. Via New York Post.

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Which Publishers Are Getting Innovation Funding from Google News Initiative?

Google revealed the recipients of innovation funding from its Google News Initiative, saying that the money will go to 87 news projects from 23 countries. Google News Initiative announced the availability of innovation funding in July, and YouTube director of news partnerships Timothy Katz said in a blog post that 312 organizations globally submitted proposals via an open application process. The funding is aimed at helping those news organizations strengthen their online video capabilities and experiment with new formats for video journalism. Via AdWeek.

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Mayo Clinic News

Clinical Challenges: Managing DLBCL after Richter's Transformation

While diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) occurs in the vast majority of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients who develop Richter's transformation, the treatment approach depends on a number of factors, but in most cases there exists no standard of care and outcomes are poor, even in the era of novel agents. "The evidence to support use of one therapy vs. the other is not very strong at all, especially for the clonal-related Richter's, and I believe the majority are clonal related," said Wei Ding, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, during a presentation at the American Society of Hematology annual meeting. Via MedPage Today.

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Mayo Recreates Historic Christmas Decorations

You can't miss the beautiful holiday star when you walk into Mayo's Plummer Building in Rochester. This is the first time the holiday decoration is up after being re-created this year. Anna Beth Morgan is the Executive Director of Libraries and Historical Units at all the Mayo campuses. She is also the one who decided to bring back the star after seeing it in a photo from 1949 while doing research for the Ken Burns documentary about the hospital. "I looked at it and thought, 'That needs to come to the Plummer Building,'" she said. But it is the bigger, real-life picture that shines to Morgan. "One of the things that's fabulous is you come through this entrance, you see a beautiful star on the floor, but this one is high above," she said. Via KIMT.

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Scientists Have Found a Way to Reverse the Signs of Aging

As we get older our cells lose their ability to generate energy effectively, which leads to the physical changes we associate with aging. Research led by K. Sreekumaran Nair, M.D., Ph.D., at Mayo Clinic reveals that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can help reverse those effects. The study included volunteers from two age groups, one between 18 and 30, and the other between 65 to 80. These groups were then divided into three: one received HIIT, another received weight training, and the third group was given a combination of both. All volunteers had to engage in the regimen for three months, and muscle biopsies were taken before and after for comparison. “After three months of interval training, everything converged towards what we saw in young people,” says Dr. Nair. Via Futurism.

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Which Flu Shot Should You Get? Here’s What You Need to Know.

The number of choices available for getting immunized against influenza is unrivaled in the vaccine world. There are 10 varieties of flu vaccine made by multiple companies approved for use in the United States. As for where to go, some doctors prefer their patients come to their primary-care clinic, because that makes it easier to keep track of who has been vaccinated, says Gregory Poland, M.D., Director of Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minnesota. Others don’t care. Most agree that it’s better to get the shot somewhere than not at all. Via Washington Post.

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Treating Blood Cancers with CAR-T Cell Therapy

CAR-T cell therapy uses white blood cells, called T cells, to fight cancer. It’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat several kinds of blood cancer. CAR-T cell therapy typically is reserved for people with blood cancers where the disease has not responded to other cancer treatment. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.

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Gina Chiri-Osmond

Gina Chiri-Osmond

Gina Chiri-Osmond is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories.